Alfa Romeo Junior

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"1969 Alfa Junior Zagato"

One of the things which marked Alfa Romeo from lesser makers from the 1950s through to the 1970s was that it was able to make small runs of special, lightweight, coupe versions of its mainstream cars. The most prized of these were the cars bodied by Zagato, an expression of the historic relationship between the two companies.

The Alfa Romeo 105 series of Spiders and sedans provided lively performance. Equipped with both 1.3- and 1.6- liter powerplants, the larger DOHC engine produced 109 hp, with 103 lb./ft torque low in the rev range. Combined with a five-speed gearbox and Alfa Romeo's sweet chassis with four-wheel disc brakes, it was an outstanding performer in its class.

Zagato's two-seat coupe body weighed 182 lb. less than the stock Giulia GT. Top speed increased to 118 mph, but that does not tell the whole story. The car was much more nimble and responsive, and the brakes had less work to do, so it was astonishingly rapid over winding roads, or in the mountains. Zagato made just 402 examples of the lightweight coupe with the 1.6 engine, and the Swiss-registered car pictured here is a fine representative of the type.

1972 Junior 1300 Zagato

When Alfa introduced the 1570cc Giulia engine in 1962, it disappointed many customers who valued the lower Italian circulation tax of the 1290cc Giulietta engine. Because of the lukewarm reception of the new Giulia Sprint GT, and in part to retain its 1300cc clients, Alfa re-introduced the Giulietta Sprint with a 1290cc version of the Giulia engine at the 1964 Geneva show. This car was the progenitor of Alfa's Junior line. From 1964 on, Alfa offered a range of displacements for its passenger cars, always including the 1300cc tax bracket. The Junior designation was first applied to the 1966 GT coupe. When the 1750 series was introduced in 1967, the Junior range was enlarged to include both 1300 and 1600 engines. In 1969, Alfa showed a Junior Zagato with the 1290cc engine at the Turin show.

Typical of Alfa, the production version did not appear until much later, and well after the initial excitement had abated. The Junior Z finally went on sale at the end of 1970. Two years later, the 1570cc version of the Junior Zagato was shown at the Turin show. A slightly revised Junior Zagato, with heavier bumpers and changed interior appointments, debuted at the 1972 Turin show. The confluence of the Junior and Zagato lines in this car focuses not on engine displacement, however, but its bodywork. Zagato-bodied Alfas have been benchmark cars in design and performance since the RL SS of 1926. Zagato bodied the 1950-1951 championship Alfettas, and about thirty-five coupes on the 1900 floorpan in 1956-1957. But when they began producing Giulietta Sprint Zagatos, Alfa refused to sell them bare chassis. The Zagatos were forced to buy finished Giulietta Sprints off the showroom floor, and then remove the bodywork, an almost prohibitively expensive procedure. Alfa remained dedicated to Bertone for its special-bodied coupes and only agreed to cooperate with Zagato when they finally identified the need for a lightweight, aerodynamic coupe which was more competitive than the Sprint Speciale. The results were the SZ and SZ Coda Tronca Giulietta Zagatos, among the most collectible Alfas extant.

Alfa Zagatos are typically dressed all in aluminum alloy. However, the Junior version carries steel in its most strategic areas. As a result, at 2,094 lb. it is significantly heavier than the 1,455 lb. of the Giulia Tubolare Zagato or the 1,675 lb. of the alloy-paneled GTA Junior. Unlike virtually all other Alfa Zagatos, this is not a race car, but a dependable, nimble, daily driver. The Junior Zagato is very similar to the Sprint Speciale in that it is a unique long-distance grand touring car that assures high average speeds in spite of its diminutive displacement. The interior of the Junior is spacious, the seats and driving position are comfortable and there's ample glass for excellent outward visibility. It's impossible to miss the striking similarity between the Junior Zagato and Honda's first CRX. Ultimately, this has to be taken as an honor for the Zagato design, which is crisp and still distinctive, even in the 21st century.

External Links

Alfa Romeo 1300 JZ (Junior Zagato) Register

Alfa Romeo S.P.A.
1910-1920 24hp | 40-60hp | Castagna | Torpedo | RL | RM | P1 | P2 | 6c 1500 | 6c 1750darkorange
1920-1940 1750 Drophead | 8c 2300 | 6c | 6c 1900 | 6c 2300 | 8c 2900 | 12 cylinder | P3 | 1935 Twin-engine
1940-1950 158 | 6c 2500
1950-1960 1900 | AR 51 The Matta | Disco Volante | Giulietta | 1.3 | 2000
1960-1970 Giulia | Super 1600 | TI | Sprint Speciale | Alfa Romeo TZ | Alfa Romeo GTA | Alfa Romeo 2600 | Alfa Romeo Tipo 33/3 | Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale | Spider Veloce | 1750
1970-1980 Montreal (1970–1977) | Alfasud (1972–1983) | Alfetta (1972–1977) | Arna | Berlina | GTV | Guilia Nuova Super 1300
1980-1990 GTV | GTV6 | Sprint | 33 (1983–1994) | Alfa 6 (1979-1984)| 90 (1984–1986) | Alfa Romeo Milano (Euro 75) (1985–1992) | 164 (1987–1998)
1990-2000 SZ | GTV (1995–present) | Spider (1998–present) | 145 (1995–2001) | 146 (1995–2001) | 155 (1992–1998) | 156 - GTA (1997–present) | 166 (1998–present)
2000 onwards GT (2004–present) | 147 - GTA (2001–present) | 159 | 167 (2007?) | Brera (Preview-2005) | Spyder (2007?) | Kamal (Expected-2007)
Concept Cars 33.2 · Carabo · Diva · Navajo · BAT series · Disco Volante · 2000 Sportiva · Kamal · Nuvola · Scighera · Visconti · Full List
Fiat Group brands Abarth | Alfa Romeo | Autobianchi | Ferrari | Fiat | Lancia | Innocenti | Maserati
Fiat Group Corporate Website | Fiat Auto Website
<- Previous Alfa Romeo Automobiles S.p.A., a subsidiary of the Fiat S.p.A. since 1986, car timeline, 1946-1979 Next ->
Type 1950s 1960s 1970s
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Small family car Dauphine* Alfasud
Compact executive car Giulietta (750/101)
Giulia Giulietta (116)
1750 Alfetta
Executive car 1900 2000 2600 2000 Alfa 6
Cabriolet 1900 2000 2600
Coupé Giulietta Sprint
Giulia Alfetta GT/GTV and GTV6
1900 2000 2600
Roadster Spider
Gran Sport Quattroruote
Sports car 6C 2500 Montreal
33 Stradale
Off-road Matta
Racing car TZ/GTA
158/159 Tipo 33 177
*Dauphine was produced under Renault license